A mid-life crisis solved by small-town America, Odysseus

Brad Herzog
Brad Herzog dealt with his midlife crisis by taking to the road to look for heroes in towns with links to the Greek classics. His book is called "Turn Left at the Trojan Horse."
MPR photo/Euan Kerr

Author Brad Herzog has a wild tale to tell.

He writes travel memoirs. His first, called "States of Mind," explored American virtues. He visited small-towns such as: Faith, South Dakota, Wisdom, Montana, and Inspiration, Arizona to meet people who exemplified those values.

The book wasn't initially a smash hit.

Then, Herzog became a contestant on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" with Regis Philbin.

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"Eventually after I won a decent amount of money, he asked me, 'So tell me about your latest book,'" Herzog said. "And I described my book for about 30 seconds, and there happened to be about 25 million people watching and within 24 hours my book was the seventh-best selling book on Amazon.com."

That resulted in more TV appearances, and more sales. At one point the book was second only to the latest Harry Potter.

It was a great modern success story. Then Brad Herzog went on with his life.

Yet it began to bother him that his biggest achievement was going to be remembered as a game show contestant.

His latest book "Turn Left at the Trojan Horse" describes the journey that resulted from that concern.

He received an invitation to his college reunion in Ithaca, New York. He remembered how in the Greek classics, the hero Odysseus struggled for years to return to his home in Ancient Ithaca.

Herzog told Euan Kerr this got him thinking about what it takes to be a hero, and live a good life today. Once again, he set off to find answers in small-town America.